Friday, July 29, 2005

2005-2006 Schedule Analysis: Part Two Of Four

7/29/2005

Happy weekend to you from HHC!

First things first, we have a major announcement coming on Monday. If you love Nebraska basketball as much as we do, we are 100% sure you are going to be excited out of your mind, and are pretty sure you're going to be in heaven... More details on Monday, right here on HHC.

Now as promised, our 2005-2006 schedule preview continues, with a look at the second half of the non-conference schedule. We hope you enjoy it and find it as useful as the first. Thanks for all of your e-mails and for being here from the start of HHC, where there are big things to come soon.

CREIGHTON: Sunday, December 11, 2005
After beginning the season with seven home games, the Huskers hit the road for what promises to be their annual struggle with the Creighton Bluejays. While the Qwest Center is only an hour from the Devaney Center, the drive has seemed much longer for Husker players and fans in recent years, as Creighton has won the past four regular season meetings in Omaha, and eight of the last ten tilts overall, including last years 50-48 loss in Lincoln that left the Huskers reeling.
Coach Dana Altman, in his twelfth year at Creighton, will rely heavily on returning scorer and rebounder Nate Funk (17.8 and 5.1) in leading Creighton to similar heights as a year ago, when the Blue Jays went 23-11 and earned a birth in the NCAA Tournament. Funk will have plenty of help, as Creighton also returns its second leading scorer in senior Johnny Mathies, who averaged 11.8 points per game a season ago. Other returning players of significance will include forwards Jimmy Motz, Dane Watts, and Anthony Tolliver, as well as guards Pierce Hibma and the oft-injured Nick Porter. In fact, Creighton loses only two players who logged significant minutes a year ago, and feels it is replacing them with talented incoming players, namely Bellevue West graduate Josh Dotzler, who earned Mr. Basketball honors in the state of Nebraska a year ago.
With a wealth of players returning to a program that has appeared in the NCAA Tournament six fo the last seven seasons, the Blue Jays and Coach Altman will hope that this season forever erases the label “mid-major” from their forehead. Besides just the NCAA Tournament, Creighton has proven they can compete with the big boys, finishing last season with wins over Missouri, Ohio State, Xavier, and yes, Nebraska.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE CREIGHTON BLUE JAYS:
-Creighton finished with an RPI of 44 a season ago. (collegerpi.com)
-Creighton has won the Missouri Valley Tournament in five of the past seven seasons.
-Creighton is one of twelve teams nationally with twenty or more wins in seven consecutive seasons.
-Creighton coach Dana Altman is just 9-11 all-time versus Nebraska, but 7-5 against the Huskers while at Creighton.
-Nebraska owns a 22-16 series lead over Creighton.
-Nebraska is 92-41 all-time versus Missouri Valley Conference opponents.

CHICAGO STATE: Saturday, December 17, 2005
After visiting in-state rival Creighton, the Huskers return home for a matchup with the Chicago State Cougars of the Mid-Continent Conference. Led by third year coach Kevin Jones, who recently received a three-year contract extension, the Cougars will face a daunting schedule in 2005-2006, as they will square off against Nebraska, Louisville, Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan, and Bradley. Unfortunately for Jones and the Cougars, facing the most challenging schedule in school history will be made extra difficult by the loss of center Deji Akindele, who declared early for the NBA draft and is currently with the Dallas Mavericks. The 7’1 center led the Mid-Continent Conference in blocks a season ago, and was third in rebounding. The Cougars also lose two other starters to graduation, and lose their top three leading scorers and rebounders from a year where they finished 9-19 and 7-9 in the Mid-Continent Conference.
As a result, Chicago State will be counting on improved play from their returning leading scorer Royce Parran, who scored 10.0 PPG a year ago, and extra hard work on the glass from returning rebounder Marin Mulic, (2.3 RPG) who will try and shoulder the load of Akindele. Besides Mulic, incoming transfer forwards Kourtney Calvin and Camron Clay will also help the Cougars in the post, which will be a key area if the Cougars are to stay competitive in 2005-2006.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE CHICAGO STATE COUGARS:
-Chicago State finished last season with an RPI of 255. (collegerpi.com)
-Chicago State faced two Big 12 opponents last season, losing 90-70 at Texas A&M, and 77-59 at Baylor.
-Chicago State was just 2-14 on the road a year ago.
-Chicago State and Nebraska will be meeting for the second time, with Nebraska defeating the Cougars last in 1990.
-Nebraska is 23-2 all-time against Mid-Continent Conference opponents.

NORTH CAROLINA A&T: Monday, December 19, 2005
With the possibility of reaching double figures in wins, Nebraska will square off against North Carolina A&T of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. (MEAC) Led by third year coach Jerry Eaves, the Aggies will enter the Devaney Center with nothing more than a small prayer, as they finished last season 1-18 away from Greensboro, and just 6-24 overall, including a 71-49 loss in Lincoln. However, perhaps Eaves has reason to be optimistic, as the Aggies do return their leading scorer and their top four rebounders from a year ago.
Spearheading the offensive attack for the Aggies will be the 2004-2005 MEAC leading scorer Sean Booker, who poured in 16.1 points per game a season ago. Booker will hope that sophomore swingman Demetrius Guions can help shoulder the scoring load, and improve on last season’s mark of 8.1 PPG. The Aggies also feel that incoming junior-college guard Austin Ewing will help in the scoring department, as Ewing average 19.4 PPG a year ago and will form a dangerous outside threat with Booker. In the post, leading rebounder Greg Roberts returns, although averaging only a modest 4.1 rebounds per game; the Aggies will also hope that incoming junior-college forward James Porter can provide post-depth as well.
In short, while the Aggies return their four best post players from a year ago, this fact is more by default than strength. If the Aggies are to be successful this season, it will be because of Booker, Guions, and Ewing, and this will require shooting a high percentage from behind the three-point mark.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE NORTH CAROLINA A&T AGGIES:
-North Carolina A&T finished last season with an RPI of 312. (collegerpi.com)
-North Carolina A&T faced one other Big 12 foe last season, losing at Texas A&M 89-56.
-North Carolina A&T and Nebraska will be squaring off for the fourth time in school history, with Nebraska leading 3-0.
-Nebraska is 9-0 all-time versus the MEAC.

ALABAMA A&M: Wednesday, December 21, 2005 Alabama A&M will land in Lincoln for game number eleven of the Husker season, and will join an elite class that already features Savannah State, Bethune Cookman, and Eastern Washington – that is, teams who travel to Lincoln for “Holiday Games.” While the Red Zone will be divided up and sparse for this contest, it likely won’t matter. However, the Bulldogs did finish with a record of 18-14 and made the school’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Not only this, but the defending Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champions return three of five starters, and three of their top four leading scorers and rebounders, so perhaps the Huskers should pay more attention than we are.
Alabama A&M coach Vann Pettaway has called Normal, AL. home for twenty-one years, and will once again look at Obie Trotter to lead the way in scoring and improve upon his 15.3 PPG from a year ago. Rickey Ricketts will also hope to build on the 9.3 PPG he achieved last campaign, and the Bulldogs will be led on the boards by Joe Martin, who averaged an impressive 7.7 rebounds per game a year ago. Look for 6’7” newcomer Jason Hill to also play a large part in controlling the post for Alabama A&M.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE ALABAMA A&M BULLDOGS:
-Alabama A&M finished last season with an RPI of 226. (collegerpi.com)
-Alabama A&M faced two common opponents of the Huskers last year, losing at Texas A&M in heart-breaking fashion, 71-68, and at home to Arkansas Pine-Bluff, 75-74. (Editors note: We have no idea how they lost this one)
-Alabama A&M played an impressive 12-7 away from home a year ago.
-Alabama A&M moved to Division One in 1998.
-Alabama A&M and Nebraska will be meeting for the first time in school history.
-Nebraska is 4-1 all-time versus Southwestern Athletic Conference opponents.

FLORIDA STATE: Saturday, December 31, 2005
In a matchup that is sure to be hyped as “the battle of the football schools” by the local Nebraska media, HHC is excited about this game because it feels both schools are also on the brink of competing in basketball. In fact, there is no other matchup on the nonconference schedule we are looking forward to more than this meeting with the Seminoles of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
While Creighton, Marquette, and UAB will have already tested Nebraska, it is coach Leonard Hamilton’s (4th year) bunch that could really tell the Huskers where they are at, especially by this point in the season. The Seminoles, just 12-19 a year ago in the nation’s toughest conference, return four of five starters and eight of thirteen letterwinners, including their returning leader in five categories, including both points and rebounds, All-ACC candidate Al Thornton (9.1 and 4.4). Senior point guard Todd Galloway is the ACC career leader in assists with 263, and senior sharp shooter Andrew Wilson also returns with ninety-nine career games played.
While Florida State definitely returns a solid core of experience, the fate of the Seminoles season and this game could easily fall upon the arrival of three highly publicized newcomers who can all score points – Uche Echefu, Caesaan Breeden, and Jerel Allen. Echefu, the 2004-2005 Gatorade Player of the Year from Maryland, averaged 21.2 points per game as a senior. Breeden, who was All-State in South Carolina, poured in 20.0 points per game. Allen, who was JUCO player of the year in the state of Michigan, put in 17.2.
Luckily for the Huskers, this game will be played on a neutral court, and likely will feature very few Seminole fans, as their football team will probably be playing around the same time in a bowl game. However, either way, Nebraska will have its hand full against this senior-laden team with perhaps the nation’s best recruiting class in the nation’s toughest conference.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES:
-Florida State finished last year with an RPI of 134. (collegerpi.com)
-Florida State has three consecutive top fifteen recruiting classes.
-Florida State has defeated six ranked opponents the past three reasons, including the nations number one, two, and three teams.
-Florida State had the highest scoring bench in the ACC a year ago, which further adds to their depth.
-Florida State shared one common opponent with Nebraska a year ago, winning at Minnesota 70-69.
-Florida State had a two-faced season – they beat Florida 82-69 and Wake Forest 91-83, but lost to Texas A&M Corpus Christi 70-67, and Florida International 65-60.
-Florida State and Nebraska will be meeting for the first time in school history.
-Nebraska is 1-2 lifetime against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

NORTHERN COLORADO: Tuesday, January 3, 2006
The Huskers wrap up the seasons non-conference slate with another holiday home game, this time against the Bears of Northern Colorado. Seventh year coach Craig Rasmuson leads the Bears, 8-21 a year ago, into the Devaney Center. However, the Bears are no stranger to Big 12 competition. The Bears faced Oklahoma (80-44 loss) and Iowa State (57-39 loss) a season ago, en route to their dismal road record of 1-16. There is hope for the Bears from Greeley, as they return four of their five leading scorers, and top two rebounders from a year ago. The most effective in both areas is sophomore center Kirk Archibeque, who average 12.2 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game in his freshman campaign. Joining Archibeque will be returning perimeter starters Matt Kline (9.9 PPG) and Sean Taibi (9.1 PPG), along with senior swingman Erik Olson. (8.1 PPG)
Northern Colorado, a Division One Independent, will look to pound the ball down low to Archibeque, and hope that the aforementioned perimeter players can knock down some open shots to keep the defense honest. Coach Rasmuson has much to look forward to, as four of this years five starters will be back in 2006-2007, including Archibeque.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE NORTHERN COLORADO BEARS:
-Northern Colorado finished last year with an RPI of 298. (collegerpi.com)
-Northern Colorado faced Longwood twice in 2004-2005, defeating the Lancers both times by scores of 76-56, and 99-91, respectively.
-Northern Colorado was outscored by opponents 74.7-66.7 in 2004-2005.
-Northern Colorado and Nebraska are meeting for the second time, with Nebraska winning the other lone meeting in 1948.
-Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against Division One Independents.

Thanks for reading schedule analysis #2 of 4, and we welcome any comments and feedback right here. Also, as aforementioned, check back on Monday for the dream of your life if you are a diehard Nebraska basketball fan!

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